Thursday, February 6, 2020

Regulations Being Considered By PUC To Encourage Water, Wastewater System Consolidation In Light Of PFAS, Lead, Emerging Contaminants

On February 6, the Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 on a motion offered by Commissioner Ralph V. Yanora, which begins a rulemaking process on issues related to water and wastewater utility service.
This action directs the PUC’s Law Bureau and Bureau of Technical Utility Services to prepare an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR)-- to be available by May 1, 2020-- exploring a series of interrelated issues impacting water and wastewater utilities across the state. 
As Commissioner Yanora notes in his motion, “In light of increasing environmental requirements and emerging contaminants like lead, PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), and PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate), the Commission recognizes that we need to do more to encourage water and wastewater system consolidation and regionalization.” 
The motion further explains that documentation required when utilities seek to acquire small-scale or troubled water or wastewater systems-- which were initially developed more than 40 years ago as part of an effort to discourage the development of non-viable systems-- can now serve as a potential impediment to much-needed water and wastewater system consolidation and regionalization. 
Additionally, the proposed rulemaking also explores how acquiring utilities will address a series of issues regarding water quality and service, including:
-- Plans to mitigate contaminants such as lead, PFOA/PFOS, and Legionella from the drinking water supplies of acquired systems.
-- The Commission’s tariff approval obligations related to cross-connection control and backflow prevention concerning these contaminants, which are required by the Department of Environmental Protection.
-- A process for periodic updates to a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission and DEP to reflect the most recent water, wastewater, and stormwater service and safety standards the Commission is obligated to enforce.
-- Any related matters that would serve to ensure the long-term viability of all new water systems.  
After the development and publication of the ANOPR, the Commission will carefully review and consider public and stakeholder comments and will then determine how best to move forward.
Related Articles:
[Posted: February 6, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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